Michael Moore’s Union Dilemma

ABC News is reporting today that a couple of labor unions are a little miffed that Michael Moore used non-union labor during work on his newest release, "Capitalism: A Love Story", which opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow.

I am reminded of the scene from Moore's 1989 film "Roger and Me" when Moore talks to factory workers through the windows of an auto plant in Flint, Mich. They were about to lose their jobs because, as Moore hammers again and again throughout the movie, that greedy General Motors was closing the plant's doors and taking its business elsewhere.

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Scenes like that catapulted Moore into his fan-declared status of champion of the working class. I wonder what those workers in the windows would think of Moore today.

A source within the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), points out to ABC News that "Capitalism: A Love Story" used some non-union labor:

"'For all of the different jobs on the movie that could have used union labor, he used union labor, except for one job, the stagehands, represented by IATSE'...The organized labor source said Moore and IATSE were in talks about Moore's decision, but did not know why Moore had used union labor for some jobs and non-union employees for other jobs for which he could have employed union workers."

This is particularly interesting given that Moore has been promoting this movie to union groups around the country. One of the featured scenes in "Capitalism" involves the union worker sit-in demonstration at a Chicago factory late last year. Moore gave these workers a sneak peek at the movie last week, which you can read about in this article titled: "Michael Moore Shows Scrappy Union Some Love in 'Capitalism'. Moore also held a movie premiere at the AFL-CIO national convention in Pittsburgh, prompting this Huffington Post headline: "Michael Moore's New Film Rocks AFL-CIO."

Moore's own Web site features a video, in which he "rallies with local unions after a special Wall Street screening (of the new movie) for laborers" on Sept. 22.

IATSE apparently isn't alone in its displeasure with the alleged union snub. ABC News also reports that another union is backing its AFL-CIO colleague until the issue is "resolved":

"As a result of Moore's decision not to use IATSE workers, at least one other national union, the American Federation of Teachers has refused free tickets offered to them from Moore."

By the way, in Michigan, too, Moore has been cited for failing to wear the union label. Traverse City blogger Jason Gillman called him out last August for boasting that he did not buy Made-in-China chairs and still saved $100 on a particularly comfy Made-in-America chair. Turns out the savings were due in part to the particular chair maker being — you guessed it —  a non-union shop.

To his credit, however, Moore has taken the side of the Michigan working folks on another fairness issue, which is transferring wealth from job providers and families in the state to Hollywood moguls who take advantage of subsidies the political class has been handing out, as documented on this site yesterday.